The Portland Trail Blazers are trading PG Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Phoenix Suns are also involved, so it’s a three-team trade, per Woj. The Blazers are acquiring PG Jrue Holiday, C Deandre Ayton, Toumani Camara, a 2029 unprotected first-round pick and unprotected Milwaukee swap rights in 2028 and 2030. The Suns get C Jusuf Nurkic, G Grayson Allen, G Nassir Little and F Keon Johnson as part of the blockbuster deal. So here’s the full breakdown:
Bucks — Damian Lillard
Trail Blazers — Jrue Holiday, Deandre Ayton, Toumani Camara, 2029 1st, two pick swaps
Suns — Jusuf Nurkic, Grayson Allen, Nassir Little, Keon Johnson
According to Woj, the Blazers are already looking for a deal for Holiday. That means the team views Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe and Scoot Henderson as the future in the backcourt. Portland could be able to flip Holiday for some future assets for some more depth after trading all those players.
The Bucks replace Holiday with Dame, who now joins two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee. The Bucks also retain SF Khris Middleton and have formed a new “Big 3” to go after another championship. Despite finishing atop the Eastern Conference last season, the Bucks were upset in the first round by the Miami Heat in five games. Injuries piled up but Milwaukee also skated by with little sense of urgency against Jimmy Butler and Miami. Adding Dame gives the Bucks another start to lean on in crunch time along with Giannis. Lillard has this to say on Twitter not too long ago back in May 2022:
That could mean Lillard is fine remaining in Milwaukee and not forcing another trade or sitting out.
The Lillard rumors had been swirling all offseason. Many of the rumors and reports suggested Dame would only agree to a trade if it were with the Heat. It appears that going to the Bucks and playing with Antetokounmpo was also an option. Lillard is clearly on a quest for his first championship and NBA Finals appearance. At 33 years old, Lillard is still among the best scorers and PGs in the NBA. He averaged 32 points per game on a bad Portland team last season in just 58 games.
The Bucks are +400 to win the championship in 2023-24 on DraftKings Sportsbook, the best odds ahead of reigning champion Denver Nuggets at +475. Milwaukee is +165 to win the Eastern Conference. Giannis is +550 to win NBA MVP in 2023-24 and Dame enters at +2200 on DKSB to win MVP.
Now let’s look at the Trail Blazers, who ship out Nurkic, Little and Dame as part of the deal. Portland gets back two borderline All-Star players in Holiday and Ayton. Those two will be in the starting lineup along with Anfernee Simons, Jerami Grant and Shaedon Sharpe. Shipping out Lillard allows the Blazers to let Simons and Sharpe run in the backcourt while 2023 first-round pick Scoot Henderson can develop off the bench. This isn’t a bad deal for the Blazers. They get a nice haul for Dame and can remain competitive in the West.
The Suns ship out Ayton and replace him with Nurkic, who should fit better down low alongside Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal in the starting lineup. The Suns also get a bit of depth from adding Allen and Little in the trade.